US envoy hopes N. Korea responds positively on offered talks

President Joe Biden’s special envoy for North Korea said Monday he hopes to see a positive reaction from the North soon on U.S. offers for talks after the North Korean leader ordered officials to prepare for both dialogue and confrontation.

Sung Kim, Biden’s special representative for North Korea, is in Seoul to speak with South Korean and Japanese officials about the U.S.’s stalled diplomacy with the North over its nuclear program and U.S.-led sanctions.

The trilateral talks followed a North Korean political conference last week where leader Kim Jong Un called for stronger efforts to improve his nation’s economy, further battered last year by pandemic border closures and now facing worsening food shortages.

After his meeting with senior South Korean diplomat Noh Kyu-duk, the U.S. envoy Sung Kim said the allies took note of the North Korean leader’s comments and are hoping the North will give a “positive response to our proposal for a meeting soon.” Sung Kim spoke later with Noh and Japanese nuclear envoy Takehiro Funakoshi over the stalled push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea.